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Samsung May Start Making ARM Server Chips

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the new-ground dept.

Hardware 116

angry tapir writes "Samsung's recent licensing of 64-bit processor designs from ARM suggests that the chip maker may expand from smartphones and tablets into the server market, analysts believe. Samsung last week licensed ARM's first 64-bit Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53 processors, a sign the chip maker is preparing the groundwork to develop 64-bit chips for low-power servers, analysts said. The faster 64-bit processors will appear in servers, high-end smartphones and tablets, and offer better performance-per-watt than ARM's current 32-bit processors, which haven't been able to expand beyond embedded and mobile devices. The first servers with 64-bit ARM processors are expected to become available in 2014."

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116 comments

Just what Apple needs... (0)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916331)

Apple is busy switching to these chips for their laptops/desktops. Coincidence?

Re:Just what Apple needs... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916345)

I seriously doubt Apple will ever switch to ARM chips in OS X (not iOS) machines. They don't provide enough performance to run at the level of current OS X machines, not to mention that ARM64 is immature as hell.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916735)

There's no technical reason why an ARM chip of comparable performance to x86 could not be made. There's also no reason to believe such a beast would use significantly less power than an x86 chip, either. In order for the entire exercise to make any sense, they would have to target a niche between current ARM and x86. If they can keep the design sufficiently simple, they should at least be able to beat current ARM designs in performance and x86 in price. It is not clear that they can beat future Intel CPUs on power usage, especially since Intel's manufacturing process leads the industry by a significant margin.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (3, Insightful)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916847)

There is. The fact that ARM architechtule an order of magnitude or more behind the current x86 generation in terms of performance is a technical issue, and ARM is clearly having issues making its chips scale in speed without completely losing whatever advantage it has in low power. Hence all the talk about dark silicone in ARM world.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917045)

An order of magnitude behind? No. A15 is close to Pentium M in terms of IPC. It should be around half way to Ivy Bridge IPC, I would think. That's not an order of magnitude, unless you're counting in base 2.

Orders of magnitude (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917147)

In astronomy, an order of magnitude means a factor of 2.512 (100**.2).

Re:Just what Apple needs... (2)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41918889)

You just compared a non-released chip from 2012 that is yet to be seen in any real life applications to a mobile x86 chip from 2003, and still didn't even get parity.

Half way to chip tech from 2012? Are you sure you want to lock that answer?

Re:Just what Apple needs... (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917367)

It depends entirely on the application. For heavy maths processing in games or Photoshop ARM is way behind, but for typical server applications it is fairly competitive. Being low power is a huge advantage in datacentres and you often get better performance by having more cores than you do by having fewer faster cores.

Look at graphics cards. Lots of small, simple and not even terribly fast cores (in terms of clock speed). For that application they blow any CPU away. Now look at a typical server and you will see that it already has lots of small, simple and relatively slow cores dedicated to things like TCP/IP offloading, RAID array control and SSD management.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41918915)

So what we get is that GPUs outclass ARM in simple mathematics, x86 outclasses ARM in more complex things.

So, where is ARM supposed to actually fit in that grand scheme of server chip? That is a question answer to which big companies are yet to find in spite of a lot of very vocal looking.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year and a half ago | (#41919125)

So, where is ARM supposed to actually fit in that grand scheme of server chip?

At hightly paralelizable symbolic processing. Like the GP said, that is most of what servers do nowadays: webserver, database manager (to a lesser extent), network filtering and caching, and a lot of other things.

I guess the bigest question is: How well will those new chips handle cryptography?

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41919407)

GPUs mostly rule that roost (crypto, highly parallelizable simple tasks). ARM has nothing on them in that regard, it's about a decade behind just like it's about a decade behind in x86 in general computing.

Let's be serious here: ARM is something companies have explored for a while now. It just isn't up to par (yet?) If it were, we'd see a lot of applications as server market is very profitable. And considering both the GPU and x86 advancement, chances are ARM will never be able to catch up.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year and a half ago | (#41921455)

By all means, what do you understand by "symbolic processing"?

No, GPUs don't rule at that. (And crypto is not symbolic processin, thus it is an open question.)

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year and a half ago | (#41919789)

That was my thought... it would be fairly easy to set up a cluster of arm CPU based servers as proxy servers, file servers, and even distributed database servers... Anywhere the main bottlenecks are IO, and you need to scale wide anyhow. I personally think the likes of non-relational database servers (NoSQL) as well as Node.js and similar asynchronous platforms cry out to be used by ARM systems. If your bottleneck is storage I/O throwing more CPU at the problem will not help. Right now this is roughly half of where the problem space lay.

That said, It would be nice to see a production ARM system platform that doesn't wind up being more expensive than the x64 equivalent. Virtualized servers on x64 each connected to distinct drives by the host currently work out better in terms of cost than the wide scale systems that the current ARM server systems are starting to offer. Raspberry Pi shows that it can be done economically, but the biggest limitation there is simply the amount of memory... if you could get something similar to an R-Pi with 2-4GB of memory, and even a single SATA port, you could create clusters of systems that could scale wide very economically.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | about a year and a half ago | (#41920191)

I don't think MIPS per CPU is the biggest concern in datacenters, it's MIPS per Watt. In that sense, ARM may outclass x86.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41920699)

That's the problem. At the moment, it's not outclassing x86 nor GPUs due to severely lacking in terms of raw calculating power. The word is that "there's potential if ARM can increase its performance while keeping the low power requirements." That doesn't mean "it's happening" or even "it's going to happen".

And intel isn't exactly sleeping, so while ARM needs to get to increase it's workload per time, intel is working on increasing workload per energy. ARM may potentially hit the "sweet spot" at some time before intel as they are both targeting the same thing but from different angles. Or it may not, as intel gets there first. Either way, neither of them are there yet, in spite of hilarious hyperbole often pushed in the media looking for sensationalist headlines.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (4, Interesting)

YoopDaDum (1998474) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916893)

It is not clear that they can beat future Intel CPUs on power usage, especially since Intel's manufacturing process leads the industry by a significant margin.

Everybody says that, but it's only true for the high performance / high power consumption process variant. It's not true for the lower power variant(s), which have some differences and are more tricky than the high perf ones (I'm not an expert on this but one issue for example is that LP needs larger wires to reduce resistance and power consumption. This requires in turn more precision to avoid shorts between wires. People who know more on this topic, please share. It's important to understand how the race can turn in the low power area). For low power Atom chips Intel is right now on 32 nm, while TSMC has been on 28 nm for a while now. It's a one year and half-node advantage for TSMC clients. And Samsung is also now on 32 nm (par). Intel announced they will speed up the availability of new finer processes for low power in the future, but based on their respective announcements Intel and TSMC would be on par for LP (we'll have to see how this turns out in practice...). This means that ARM clients can have a competitive process in the low power space today, and possibly tomorrow. It's likely that ARM clients would focus on many cores / low power servers for I/O bounds loads. They can be competitive there, and gain a foothold. Going to higher single thread performance can come later, it would be hard to attack Intel there in the short / medium term anyway. If you pick a fight, pick one you can win. And the ARM world has more experience in LP.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41919415)

" For low power Atom chips Intel is right now on 32 nm, while TSMC has been on 28 nm for a while now."

And reviews indicate that they are power competitive at that process, so there's no need to waste resources optimising the 22nm process on low margin designs.

" It's a one year and half-node advantage for TSMC clients."

However things don't appear to be very rosey for TSMC clients on this process. (http://www.extremetech.com/computing/130937-tsmc-still-struggling-with-28nm-qualcomm-and-nvidia-threaten-to-jump-ship)

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

colin_faber (1083673) | about a year and a half ago | (#41919465)

You make some great points here about process size, however one thing to remember is the Atom line processors are already 64 bit with very good performance to power draw ratios. Paired along side of Intel's graphics offers this allows for extremely low power / reasonably good performance devices to be produced in house.

I tend to agree with the others here who suggest this is a solution looking for a problem, that said, I'm always excited to see innovations which push Intel's glass prices down :)

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year and a half ago | (#41919841)

But you can run a number of smaller virtual environments in the larger x86 (64-bit) CPUs that wind up scaling very well in comparison to a small cluster of ARM systems... When I've priced out the ARM server systems currently available, x86 usually winds up being a better value, when you consider having a host + 1VM per compute unit, which still out-paces the ARM systems. That said, I think that some standardization of ARM based general computing systems could bring significant reduction in pricing which could lead in ARMs favor. I think if AMD and Samsung came together on a BIOS/UEFI common interface system for components, that general purpose ARM computing can really take off.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917153)

" There's also no reason to believe such a beast would use significantly less power than an x86 chip, either."

Sure there is... the ARM chip wouldn't have to "translate" like the x86 chip would (as the chip running actual x86 would make them even more wasteful in terms of lost performance and power efficiency).

Re:Just what Apple needs... (4, Insightful)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916787)

I seriously doubt Apple will ever switch to ARM chips in OS X (not iOS) machines. They don't provide enough performance to run at the level of current OS X machines, not to mention that ARM64 is immature as hell.

No, but the threat of switching will provide that extra minute push to ensure Intel's continued refinement of Atom chips, and perhaps force them to release subsequent generations a year or two sooner than otherwise. Now that MS is actively promoting ARM-based tablets, Intel should be worried if not outright scared.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917097)

Indeed, with AMD's recent moves into the ARM ecosystem, I think Intel is pretty much the only one that isn't in on ARM. It remains to be seen what AMD's APUs are going to look like with an integrated ARM core, but I like the idea. I just hope they can pull it off.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about a year and a half ago | (#41918251)

Given the fact that Microsoft will probably sell no more than a few thousand of those tablets (to all tech review sites) I'd say Intel is probably safe.

Your point stands though.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year and a half ago | (#41920377)

You don't need a lot of performance in a laptop. Desktop sales have plummeted and Apple has negligible server sales. Make of that what you will.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

gigaherz (2653757) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916347)

Apple decided to stop buying their LCDs, why would they begin buying their ARM chips now?

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

gigaherz (2653757) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916353)

Eh actually sorry, Samsung decided to stop selling to Apple, so why would they sell ARM chips now?

Re:Just what Apple needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917175)

Eh actually sorry, Samsung decided to stop selling to Apple, so why would they sell ARM chips now?

An interesting insight into your deluded world.

Apple are trying to source their components from people other than Samsung as they feel, rightly or wrongly, that Samsung have used their position as a supplier to rip-off a number of Apple's products, but currently Apple still buy a large number of their displays from Samsung. It's Apple who are looking to remove Samsung from their (display) supply chain.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916447)

They do plan to switch, but to their own chips (they own P.A. Semi), not buying from some one else.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#41918487)

Apple is busy switching to these chips for their laptops/desktops. Coincidence?

Yes. Because when I'm looking for a server, I need to be able to RUN THINGS ON IT! You know, like exchange and our autocad plugin licensing program and our fax controller and our voicemail control program and active directory. I can't even think of anything an arm chip would help with other than being slow and not running anything. It wouldn't even work as a file server because then it'd have to run some RT-style version of server 2012 and Linux probably won't run on it either. What a pointless device. It'd maybe work for a SAN or something but not a server.

Re:Just what Apple needs... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | about a year and a half ago | (#41919145)

Arm seems to be pretty strongly pushing linux support for 64-bit arm devices and I imagine the opensource server apps will pretty quickly follow. Samba4 will probablly run too if you want to host an AD tree.

It will be insteresting to see what MS does and whether they gimp the 64-bit arm version of windows in the same way they gimp the 32-bit one but even if they don't I wouldn't expect specialist propietry server apps to be ported any time soon. So for those uses arm is probablly out of the running for now.

What are these low power servers good for? (3, Insightful)

toygeek (473120) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916333)

I understand the implications of lower power for infrastructure reasons. Lower power means lower cost for power, lower cooling needs, etc. I get that. But what is the "Killer app" for these low power servers? Is it data warehousing? Simple web hosting? I can see these being useful for odds-and-ends servers in data centers with bigger iron for more heavy duty apps, but why is everyone jumping on this bandwagon?

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (5, Insightful)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916361)

I/O bound servers, where a more powerful CPU would be mostly idle anyway.

Web hosting, data warehousing, networking infrastructure, and the like do fall that way pretty often, though obviously there are exceptions.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916493)

I/O bound servers, where a more powerful CPU would be mostly idle anyway.

Didn't we invent SSDs to fix that...?

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916669)

You realize there are these things called networks, and they aren't exactly as fast as the CPU...

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917797)

The mechanics of serving today, they got like 10000 hosts stuffed into one machine, the hoster knows well that 90% of those sites are idling most of the time, so it is not an issue, but has the multicore muscle to save the day in a busy thread spike. The I/O bottleneck is actually not a problem, there are very few high traffic websites. A common web hoster just needs a low-power hexa, octa or better multicore on the cheap.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (4, Interesting)

Morlenden (108782) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916883)

The I/O limit could be on memory. Servers can have >1000 times more RAM than there is cache on a CPU chip. With enough threads and/or processor cores the cache hit rate drops, so that the memory bus is 100% busy. At that point a faster CPU gives no benefit, may as well us a low-power one.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (3, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917591)

No, we invented SSDs to alleviate that. Even an SSD is much, much slower than the CPU. Hell, your *RAM* is much slower than the CPU; that's why CPUs have memory caches. Even with SSDs, there's a lot of load profiles where the CPU is not the bottleneck. A slower CPU that's cheaper, uses less power and generates less heat looks good to anybody with that kind of load profile.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41918313)

I/O bound servers, where a more powerful CPU would be mostly idle anyway.

Didn't we invent SSDs to fix that...?

Even if the system is not bottlenecked by a HDD, you wouldn't need much any CPU power if the server is doing a lot of plain I/O, which is just copying bits around.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916885)

I/O bound servers, where a more powerful CPU would be mostly idle anyway.

How about distributed databases with high throughput and complex commit protocols?
Don't we need fast CPU's for that?

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916979)

So you use x86-64 or the new Chinese Alphas for the the DB management boxes, and ARM for the page generators, static content servers, caches, drive controllers, and so on. Homogenous hardware his its place, but a mixed system could be more efficient.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917191)

What chinese alphas? I now they have longsoon which is mips (former SGI not former DEC) but im not aware of a chinese copy alpha processor (Made by DEC and sold to intel/amd/...)

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

Confusador (1783468) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917929)

Hence the GP said, "though obviously there are exceptions."
He wasn't claiming that these chips would be perfect for everyone, just that there are *some* areas where they would be.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (2)

gigaherz (2653757) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916373)

If you expect your datacenter to spend a lot on time processing data, then ARM and other low-power components are probably not for you. If, on the other side, you expect the cpu to be somewhat idle, and the system to spend most of the time on DMA operations between HDDramnetwork, you want a system that uses up the least possible power, specially in idle contiditions. Of course I suppose in most practical examples you don't really have either situation. Chances are you want your datacenter to be able to process distributed queries, and only transfer the minimal required data through the network, which does require some processing power.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (4, Funny)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916417)

Re why is everyone jumping on this bandwagon?
Think of the colourful charts - a new vision of fast ssd's, new ARM, new streamlined code and huge drops in power costs* when doing some types of math and not using HD's.
Find some art of a smiling admin and photoshop it all together.
Invite managers to lunch and sell them the low power, always on, expandable, low cost, union free remote admin upgrade, effortless cloud future - now at a super low price if you sign up today.
Then up sell the users on your green server, green power supply and find some art of a happy polar bear.
Its like selling powerpc to the young and dumb all over again.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

YoopDaDum (1998474) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916917)

I don't think so (but I'm not in this business either, so this is just my opinion).

These ARM servers are not for the general public. A lot of servers now go to the Facebook, Google and Amazons. These guys run their own stacks based on open source, so are not much tied to any ISA. Linux based software run fine on ARM. And they have a lot of loads that are I/O bounds (network mostly), so no need for huge CPU. And costs are critical, both in term of cost of hardware and power consumption (direct and cooling) as the services are often free. ARM is well know for its power efficiency, and the prices and margins are much lower than what Intel is used too.

These companies are the targets for ARM servers in a first step IMHO. Some already have expressed interest so it's not science fiction there: Facebook has join Linaro server workgroup recently for example. Once you have a foot there, you can scale later on to other markets. I don't expect ARM servers to go head to head with Intel in single thread performance for a long while, but I don't think they need to have good business either.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (4, Informative)

cstdenis (1118589) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916497)

* DNS servers (if you aren't virtualizing stuff)
* email servers (if your spam scanning is external)
* some database servers (generally io bound not cpu bound, tho it of course depends on the nature of the queries)
* simple web hosting (stuff like a CDN serving static files needs almost no CPU)
* monitoring servers
* Camera/surveillance servers (video processing is mostly done by dedicated chips on capture cards)

Really, most servers are not CPU bound these days and would probably benefit from many low-clocked cores than few high-clocked ones. They are exceptions of course, that is why we have super-computers at the other extreme.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916871)

* email servers (if your spam scanning is external)
* some database servers (generally io bound not cpu bound, tho it of course depends on the nature of the queries)

Where are these servers not CPU intensive. Even in a small business your most CPU intensive servers will be mail and database.

Things that ARM chips would be ideal for.
* File server appliances
* Security appliances
* Web server appliances
* Networking appliances (DNS, DHCP, Directory Services)

You might notice the word "appliances" comes up a lot, well ARM/Linux is already used in a lot of these appliances.

The one that ARM would be ideal for I havent seen (so it probably exists and I havent seen it)
* Backup appliances.
Why, because virtualising a backup server is a royal PITA. If you've got a tape drive, virtualising a SCSI or SAS connector isn't fun. Even when dealing with disk to disk backups you've got to direct map LUN's which things like vMotion don't like. You can virtualise backup servers, it's just prefered to keep them physical for simplicities sake. So a simple ARM device with a few SAS connectors and Fibre Channel would be great, all a backup device does is move data from one location to another, hardly CPU intensive at all (even with a bit of encryption on top).

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917003)

POP3/IMAP/SMTP server:
95-98% idle
Anti-Spam server:
70-45% idle
These are both ISP servers, with many thousands of active accounts.
In both cases having more, slower cores would be better than a few faster cores.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917215)

I dunno, I'm having trouble seeing what gap they fill. In terms of low powered units, well we have those already. They often do use ARM CPUs (or MIPS), with other bits integrated on them, and they work fine for consumer shit. When you start to talk higher end, you need bigger systems.

Like if you want a simple little home NAS type of thing, it might ship with a BCM4718 and do just fine. However when you start stepping up to enterprise filers, you need more power. You find NetApps use Intel and AMD CPUs as an example.

There's also the fact that how much do you really save with a cheap processor, especially compared to losing flexibility. So day you have something you want to use for backup control for your tape system. You say ok, simple computer is fine it isn't CPU intensive. Then you add in a FC card, to talk to your library. Then you add in a NIC that has AES acceleration on it, since the CPU can't handle encryption at wire speed. Oh, and then you add in the cost of the tape library. You could easily have a $30,000+ setup, does it matter if you save $300 on the CPU?

Thing is, if you go with just a normal PC, then you can run Windows, Linux, whatever you like and whatever backup client on that you like. Get a little backup "appliance" and you are stuck with whatever they give you.

I just don't see caring. We are upgrading our backup solution at work and the big costs are the LTO-5 drives and tapes (we can keep the same library) and after that to a much lesser extent the FC interface card. The cost of a new server (we are finally ditching our Sparc POS) is very secondary.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916543)

Just because they are low power does not mean they cant be fast for some tasks. Power (watts) != velocity.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916703)

You seem to only be thinking of replacing existing machines, what about the new possibilities this opens? Data-intensive science is all the rage these days, but in situations(such as in very remote areas, such as Antarctica or even Mars) it has some severe limitations, it's difficult to bring a lot of compute power with you because of power requirements, and your instruments can often pump out a lot more data than you can (reliably and affordably) send over the air. Wouldn't it be cool to have a truly mobile compute cluster, one that you can pack on to a rover and send to Mars? Thats just one of the potential applications.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

Whiteox (919863) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916709)

It's actually the byte size that matters. Chomping 64 bits per cycle means more data per instruction. You really don't need any of the fancy intel instruction set or construction set for just plain raw processing.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916923)

One byte is by definition 8 bits. You're thinking of word size.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917397)

Pedantic: yes the GP probably meant wordsize, but byte is not by definition 8 bits. Of course you're unlikely to encounter different byte sizes these days, but still. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byte [wikipedia.org]

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

Whiteox (919863) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917669)

Yes you are both right. Word size was what I was after. And I did know of funky byte sizes, but my memory is getting old and crackly.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916901)

Who cares about ARM!

From previous slashdot CPU circle jerk articles the Cell processor should be in everything now! RIP x86!

Personally, I'm waiting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41918717)

...for the return of stack-architecture processors myself ;-)

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916903)

Not just for servers are they ? They'll be used for next-gen workstation/desktop.

The low power server thing is just marketing. Use them for what you want.

More efficient design = space for more cores and/or cache on the same chip = want.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916969)

I'd love to replace my server with a low-power ARM type one (Debian runs on ARM, right?). First of all, remember that there are many many more uses and installations of servers than in server farms and data centres.

My server is not doing much work, though it has many different jobs. It's running a web site that has a couple dozen hits a day maybe. It's a file server (NFS - for the home directories, and handling backups), Kerberos authenticaion, e-mail/SMTP, LDAP, etc. And it's for just two workstations, and allowing me remote access to my files and other data (ssh) and remote printing (cups). And it's doing a handful of other odd jobs, like DHCP and firewall for the local network.

And as you can imagine, most of the time it's just sitting there being mostly idle. Really I'm sure there are millions of that kind of small servers, for both small companies and private home servers. They don't do much, but what they do is important and they also do need to be on all the time. Great use case for a low-powered system, as it really doesn't need as much horsepower as it got now.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917343)

It's a file server (NFS - for the home directories, and handling backups), Kerberos authenticaion, e-mail/SMTP, LDAP, etc.

It might sound absurd, but I find e-mail to be one of the more intensive tasks my servers perform and this is mostly due to anti-virus, anti-spam, archiving etc.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917437)

And the indexing for quick searching. That's what takes quite some effort, too.

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

cmdr_tofu (826352) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917429)

What do you do for SPAM? Running a small (less than 10 users) email system over the years, I've had to upgrade from a dual PII to a dual PIII and most recently just got an i7. To be fair I didn't need to get the i7, but the entire system was cheap and the dual PIII had problems that I didn't want to investigate (most likely bad RAM).

Postfix+mailscanner+spamassassin are not cheap to run! Dspam is maybe a lot lighter than spamassassin. But once you have an active mailserver on the internet you get significant IO/CPU load unfortunately.

I looked into replacing my TV computer with an ARM system from TRIM-SLICE, but it wouldn't pay for itself in power savings in less than 5 years. I hope these better CPUs will be *cheap* as well as low power. That will spur adoption here!

Re:What are these low power servers good for? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917535)

The first 90% or so of spam is stopped by greylisting on SMTP level. Yes it delays mails from new senders a bit, but in 99.9% of those cases I'm not expecting it, and am not waiting for it, so that doesn't really matter. And by far most of the mails that I receive are from regular contacts anyway which are accepted instantly.

The last 10% that does come through amounts to some 30-40 spam per day on my account, and far less on my staff's account (which is not plastered all over the place). The number of e-mails that I get is not that great, around 50 a day maybe. So even if that's multiplied by 10, it's not much.

I used to have a 600 MHz or so PC with little RAM, that was before greylisting, and it worked just fine, I only replaced it because it simply broke down. It was handling the load easily.

Remember now (5, Insightful)

ADRA (37398) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916391)

The new Google Nexus phones are shipping with 2GB of ram, and its conceivable that tablets will being shipping with > 4GB of ram within a few years. It just looks like Samsung is covering their bases for the future.

Re:Remember now (4, Informative)

White Flame (1074973) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916421)

The recent 32-bit ARMs supports LPAE, so you can have over 4GB no problem. That's still running a 32-bit address space per app, which would probably still work fine for a mobile environment.

Re:Remember now (3, Insightful)

MrDoh! (71235) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916591)

Very true, but marketing will probably prefer 64bit chips over 32bit chips with LPAE as it just sounds more powerful to have the 64bit. These go to 11.

Re:Remember now (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916777)

Very true, but marketing will probably prefer 64bit chips over 32bit chips with LPAE as it just sounds more powerful to have the 64bit.

It's not that simple. 64bit instructions can handle more data per cycle than 32bit ones, so there is an increase in performance whenever you handle large amounts of data and/or large numbers. I don't know how much of an overhead LPAE adds to execution, but no matter how small the overhead is no overhead at all is still better. Also, I am not sure if I have misunderstood something or not, but I've gotten the impression that even with LPAE the OS can access up to 1TB of memory, but the 32bit applications are still confined to 4GB.

Re:Remember now (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916833)

Umm, you're still processing a single item of data per cycle, but it's now 64-bit long instead of 32. Performance increases if you can process 64 bit as a vector of 2x32/4x16/8x8 bit values, which you could do before with NEON for ARM or MMX/SSE for x86.

Extra addressable space doesn't matter for most tasks, some, like DBMS, do benefit from it though.

Biggest performance increase from new 64-bit architectures, applicable both for x86_64 and ARM64, is bigger register set - you don't need as much memory accesses because you can keep most local variables in registers or you can unroll loops more, loading a bigger batch of data in more registers than before.

On cons side you get higher pressure on memory bandwidth and caches and lower instruction stream density.

All in all, you get somewhat higher memory requirements, almost unchanged performance on most tasks and nice performance increase on some, like compilers, VMs, databases and media processing.

Re:Remember now (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917955)

Your post contains a number of misconceptions.

It's not that simple. 64bit instructions can handle more data per cycle than 32bit ones, so there is an increase in performance whenever you handle large amounts of data and/or large numbers

The first is that the size of the address space corresponds to data size. NEON, the ARM vector instruction set, can already perform operations on 64-bit integer or floating point values[1]. This is even true on x86, where you have 64-bit operations that work on a pair of registers. The advantage is that you have 64-bit registers, so you don't need to use two for each 64-bit operation (6 of your 14 GPRs on ARMv7 if you want two source and one destination, compared to 3 of your 31 GPRs on ARMv8). On x86, there's a much bigger advantage, because x86 only really has two pairs of registers that can be used as 64-bit GPRs, so pretty much any 64-bit operation results in a stack spill. Going up to 16 64-bit GPRs on x86-64 makes a huge difference, but that's an x86-specific issue, not a general issue with 64-bit instruction sets in general.

I don't know how much of an overhead LPAE adds to execution, but no matter how small the overhead is no overhead at all is still better

LPAE adds one extra layer to the page tables. 64-bit mode adds at least one and typically three extra layers to the page tables (depending on page size). This means that there is less overhead (TLB misses require fewer cache lines / memory accesses to fill) in LPAE mode than in 64-bit mode.

Also, I am not sure if I have misunderstood something or not, but I've gotten the impression that even with LPAE the OS can access up to 1TB of memory, but the 32bit applications are still confined to 4GB.

That is true, more or less, however it's unlikely to be an issue. I am currently typing this from a laptop running a 64-bit OS on a 64-bit CPU. The largest process (counting virtual address space used) I have running is a VirtualBox VM, which has 2.18GB mapped. The next largest has 1.09GB. All of the rest are under 1GB. On a mobile phone, applications tend to be even smaller.

[1] Note, however, that the calling convention specifies that 64-bit integer values are passed in pairs of integer registers, so it's often cheaper to do a short sequence of operations on the main pipeline than copy the value to a NEON register.

Address extensions are a pain (1, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916741)

While it is a workable hack to support more than 4GB of RAM without expanding the virtual address space, it is a hack. Much better to just g 64-bit and call it good. Hence I imagine that's what you'll see with mobile devices. When they start to need more RAM, they'll shift to 64-bit.

Same shit with desktops and many Intel servers. Intel supported PAE, and Windows implemented it as AWE, with 32-bit chips. Was never very popular though, due to the limitations and performance issues with paging. Now, with actual 64-bit chips, it has gotten much more popular.

Re:Remember now (1)

evilviper (135110) | about a year and a half ago | (#41920619)

PAE is a hack. It works, but you should avoid it if you damn-well can. And it sounds like we all can avoid it.

Re:Remember now (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916975)

It's that they're missing ethernet ports and are low on storage, but a modern phone is more than powerful enough to serve as a simple server.

Re:Remember now (2)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917243)

It's that they're missing ethernet ports and are low on storage, but a modern phone is more than powerful enough to serve as a simple server.

My old Nokia N900, with its 650Mhz single-core CPU, was doing quite fine as a small Samba+SSH+Transmission+Mumble - server with spare CPU-resources left over, too, so yeah, I agree with this. I just installed DD-WRT on my Buffalo - router the day before yesterday and the proceeded to install uMurmurd (a simplified Mumble-server) on it, and it still handles routing 1Gbit/s Ethernet and 802.11n WIFI on top of it perfectly fine with only a 333Mhz ARM CPU. I love how DD-WRT made the box so much more useful and stable than it was before!

That said, I don't know how this is related to the topic at hand in any way or form. We're talking about "real" servers with hundreds or thousands of users here, not home use.

Re:Remember now (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917223)

Let's just hope they fix the S3 soon so that attempting to use cut and paste no longer results in a reboot!

Re:Remember now (1)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#41920071)

Samsung already has a line of tablet-like tablet PCs (i.e. not notebooks which convert into a tablet) which it's been selling for over a year [engadget.com] . Given Microsoft's announcement of Windows for ARM, it's hardly surprising that Samsung is prepping for an ARM version to go with its Intel version.

Or a simpler explanation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916401)

...could be that they want to be able to build devices with more than 4GB of RAM?
Nah, that couldn't be it.

Re:Or a simpler explanation... (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916411)

..and sammy would probably license any chip arm makes anyhow, if only to just check it out.

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916495)

Who needs another proprietary closed source crap?

http://www.opensparc.net/ [opensparc.net]

Re:Who cares? (1)

wmac1 (2478314) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916971)

Did you notice that the website has not been touched since 2010?

I am not sure how the design may progress with the current status. Is there any forks or active contributors?

Samsung may become North Korean (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916501)

and then were will we be?

So who is the supreme Kim, now that lil Kim and papa Kim have gone to HELL.

Commodity ARM 64 bit server motherboards (2)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | about a year and a half ago | (#41916589)

I would gladly welcome commodity server motherboards with ARM 64 bits CPUs. I trust I would easily find a suitable distro for my home server.

Re:Commodity ARM 64 bit server motherboards (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917511)

Perhaps if Linaro's work bears fruit, that will be a realistic vision. Right now support for ARM-based devices is all over the place and is only now being unified in the kernel, let alone boot loaders etc.

Re:Commodity ARM 64 bit server motherboards (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year and a half ago | (#41919567)

If this thing does crypto well, I could use a quad-core ARM chip at home.

But I doubt those chips are targeted at home or small business. They'll probably have much more than 4 cores, to achieve similar throughput to the current x86 offerings.

Two Years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41916825)

Remember that in two years we will have 4GB of RAM in our smartphones. To use all of that we should be using 64bit systems.

Samsung May Start Making ARM Server Chips (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41917277)

You have provided a useful information thanks for posting
Erica Martin

Raspberry Ketones [liquidrasp...etones.com]

MIPS was doing it 12 years ago (1)

slacka (713188) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917567)

MIPS and ARM are very similar Instruction Set Architectures. While I've only taking a cursory look at the new ARM64, it doesn't seem as clean as MIPS64. So with the same level of optimization, MIPS should be able to get a better performance per watt and higher IPC. SiByte had working MIPS64 CPUs 12 years ago. MIPS used to dominate the TOP500, but recently Intel has left them in the dust. So I don't see how Samsung is going to do any better with ARM.

Then again, if x86 can become the IPC leader, any ISA has a shot. Samsung is going to need a few Jim Keller's of their own to pull this feat off.

I can confirm they are (2)

jittles (1613415) | about a year and a half ago | (#41917861)

I just got an email from Samsung at the beginning of this week asking me to apply for a job in Dallas, TX. They are looking for an ARM Server hardware/software development team. They sent me the software job description and it looks like they want people who can tweak some firmware and perhaps even tinker with the Linux kernel. Looked like a great job but they require an MS in CS/CE and prefer PH Ds. I don't know why they even bothered emailing me. They have my resume and I clearly do not have a masters.

Re:I can confirm they are (3, Informative)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#41918031)

Because "we require" rarely means "we won't touch you with a bargepole unless you have". It's there to weed out the chaff who think they're not good enough or important enough to apply.

I've applied for numerous jobs that have "required" things like MCSE's and A+, and first-class degrees and I clearly state that I don't have them, but what I do have is X amount of experience doing Y.

The bright employers (i.e. the only type you *want* to work for anyway) pick it up and say "Oh, right, he's probably spent so long DOING the job, he never got around to paying the certification tax on a bit of paper to say he could do it." or "He was out earning a wage in this sector while our own guys were still in university playing with microcontrollers". The bad ones, of course, shove it off and it gets lost in the HR department because it "doesn't meet criteria".

I've also advised people to ignore this sort of thing in the past, so long as you *CAN* put forward a reasonable case of being suitable for the job anyway, and it's never perfect (there is no magic way to get a job) but it's helped a lot of them to get positions they didn't think they were good enough for. How many of the industry founding fathers and visionaries had PhD's or Masters? Nowhere near all, and they still got there.

Don't blatantly ignore high requirements, just substitute what you have instead (and, if you like, in your covering letter explain that: "Although I notice that the job requirements include X, I feel that my extensive expertise in position Y performing task Z should be sufficient to prove that I'm capable of performing to the standards required") if you think you have a shot of doing the JOB.

Applications processes are mainly about weeding out the vast number of applicants, but secondarily they are about YOU weeding out the vast number of jobs available. Because if your employer can't see that you can do the job, just because you have an absence of certain desired letters after your name, you probably don't want to work there anyway (and they probably will ignore your application, but the chances that they veto you for future posts because of your politely-worded ambition are vanishingly small... and again, those sort of people you just don't want to work for anyway).

That may be *why* they bothered emailing everyone. Because they aren't just interested in PhD's, but they just want a high standard of applicant. One who has those qualifications, or one who has the skills and knows how to get through a job application process by playing on them.

The worst that happens is they say No, and keep your information on file for future reference. The chances it will prejudice any future applications - a concern I've heard from the people I've given personal advice - are basically zero (do you really think HR departments keep years and years and years worth of applications that they are already TRYING to narrow down to just a few candidates from thousands and somehow and check them for every post? No.).

And, you never know, they might just say "Well, actually, you're not right for this particular position, but we are just about to advertise for X as well, and that's look more suited to you."

In job-hunting, there's nothing wrong with being ambitious, so long as you're honest. And even if they offer it you and you don't like the idea of working in a crowd full of bitter PhD's, or it's not better than your current job, again - you can so "no" just as easily as they can.

Re:I can confirm they are (1)

jittles (1613415) | about a year and a half ago | (#41918453)

Oh I agree with what you're saying but 1) the job is in Dallas, TX. 2) In my experience, these large companies are very hard to get into w/o meeting the basic requirements. If you know someone, you can get into them, but I bet the application would never make it past HR. I'm a pretty spot on match for 90% of their requirements, maybe more. But I am not going to bother applying for a job that is somewhere I don't want to live, and is also likely just a waste of my time. I have a job already and am only casually looking at other opportunities.

I was actually contacted about another position with a smaller company. They asked me to apply and I was interested, and did so. They called me up for a phone screen and asked how many years of mobile development i had (it's on my resume). I was honest and the person started going on about how I should have never applied because I didn't meet the minimum qualifications. Then I explained to them that I used to do embedded development for ARM/MIPS and that I have plenty of experience on low power devices, and am just a little short of experience on the particular mobile API they wanted me to know. They went from being on the verge of ending the phone screen, to talking to me for another 20 minutes. It left a bad taste in my mouth for that company, however.

Samsung - open up your 'smart t.v.s' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41918055)

I would be far more inclined to support Samsung if they didn't resort to obfuscating open software:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SamyGO [wikipedia.org]

Why do they do this? It would seem to me it would be a net positive to leave it open and create a market/culture around an open 'smart' t.v. rather than try and keep it closed which turns off early adopters. It sure is not engendering any loyalty.

Cheap servers? (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#41919075)

I look at the raspberry pi at $25 and think that would make an OK server. So a slightly upgraded pi with a good arm processor and say 4-8G of memory would be an awesome server as part of a cluster. For many servers in clusters a bit of storage is needed for boot up; the data mostly stays in ram. Then all that would be needed would be the occasional more traditional machine for HD storage. It would be killer to be able to keep adding new little servers for $99.
10 machines with say 4 cores each and 4G each would give a cluster with 40 cores and 35 gigs of in ram storage; all for around $1000. Plus anything by ARM would probably be pretty good efficiency-wise.

Due to redundancy and the extreme capacity adding flexibility I would much prefer $99 machines to just a boring regular server with just an big old ARM chip. Or even a boring regular server with a pile of ARM chips.
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